To really get a sense of how impressive Cage the Elephant’s “Spring Fling” tour was as a rock show, you have to consider the entire lineup.
Sure, the Kentucky rock band was the obvious headliner and the main draw for the tour, which kicked off last night at the Save Mart Center, but they managed to put together a four-plus hour showcase, not only of their own considerable skills (and singer Matt Schultz’ stage stamina), but of the very state of contemporary rock music.
Opener, Bear Hands, produced the most “indie” set of the night; meaning the closest to something you’d see at dank nightclub, as opposed to an arena stage. The New Tour band plays jittery punk-ish alt. rock, heavy with electronic flourishes and singer Dylan Rau’s quirky vocal style. By nature, the music lacks some of the epic-ness needed to fill an arena space (especially one the crowd hasn’t quite filled in yet). That said, they were my personal favorite of the night.
Foals had the most current feeling performance of the night; meaning most suited to contemporary rock audiences. The band recently transitioned into playing these kind of arena shows. They do it really well. Contrasted to Bear Hands, Foals does play the kind of dynamic, epic rock that is perfectly suited for large, highly produced venues.
Also: Singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis easily had the most powerful voice of the night, even at full scream.
Silversun Pickups was the most raw and unfiltered of the lineup, especially when singer Brian Aubert kicked into his signature vocal scream and the band followed with a wall of distorted noise (which it did almost to perfection on the song “Lazy Eye”). For the slightly older crowd, Silversun Pickups draws the line between ’90s grunge (hints of Smashing Pumpkins) and contemporary radio rock.
Cage the Elephant was the most dynamic, energetic and classically “rock and roll” of the four bands. The influences are obvious (especially as the band flirts with ’60s pop garage rock) but not done obviously. Watching Schultz dance and swirl around the stage for close to two hours, I wondered if this was how it felt to see Mick Jagger and the ‘Stones in their early days, when they were still dangerous and real. Cage the Elephant is the heir apparent to bands like Stones, or the Who. It proved as much with a feedback-laden finale that was just shy of Pete Townsend putting his guitar through a speaker.
Check out The Fresno Bee for a photo gallery from the show.
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